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Balance key as No. 17 Gonzaga women top Santa Clara 67-50

Syndication: Stockton Record

Pacific’s Valerie Higgins, center, tries to get to the hoop through Gonzaga’s Jenn Wirth, left, and Jill Townsend during a West Coast Conference women’s basketball game at Pacific’s Spanos Center in Stockton. Uop Gonzaga 075a

Clifford Oto/The Stockton Record

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Melody Kempton and twins Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth each scored 12 points and No. 17 Gonzaga used a big second quarter to defeat Santa Clara 67-50 on Saturday.

Jill Townsend added 10 points for the Bulldogs (18-2, 13-0 West Coast Conference), who have won 17 straight.

Gonzaga, which bolted to a 27-10 lead after one quarter en route to a 71-52 victory in the first meet, matched its lowest opening quarter of the season on Saturday for a 12-8 lead.

The teams swapped 3-pointers in the first 70 seconds of the second quarter before the Bulldogs took over on both ends, scoring 19 straight to lead 34-11 at the half. Gonzaga was 8 of 14 from the floor with Kempton scoring eight points while the Broncos missed nine shots and had six turnovers.

Santa Clara (12-8, 8-6), which had won four of five, made a push in the third quarter, using an 11-0 run to outscore the Zags 24-12. The Broncos pulled within 41-33 on a 3-pointer by Lana Hollingsworth to cap the run at the 2:17 mark. Abby O’Connor answered with a 3 and Cierra Walker hit a pair of free throws for Gonzaga before Santa Clara pulled within 46-35 when Ashlee Maldonado laid it in as time ran out.

Gonzaga quickly regained control with Jenn Wirth scoring the first points of the fourth quarter and LeeAnne Wirth the next four.

The teams matched up statistically except for rebounding where the Bulldogs had a 43-24 lead. With an 18-5 difference in offensive rebounds and the Zags going plus-5 on turnovers, Gonzaga put up 17 more shots.

Merle Wiehl led Santa Clara with 11 points.

Gonzaga is scheduled to play at second-place BYU on Thursday. Santa Clara has a Tuesday game at Loyola Marymount.